Multi-Family Residential

Chapter 13


All lands located within the Multi-Family Residential Development Permit Area, as shown on Schedule P.


Pursuant to section 488(1)(f) of the Local Government Act, these lands are designated as a development permit area for the establishment of objectives for the form and character of multi-family residential development. These lands are also designated under section 485 of the Local Government Act as areas in which the municipality may require applicants to provide information on the form and character of the development.


The Multi-Family Residential DPA designation covers all areas outside of the Whistler Village and Whistler Creek DPAs with multi-family developments. The goal with this OCP update is to provide a set of general design guidelines for the various multi-family locations to guide new or redevelopment proposals in these areas. The intention is to encourage visually attractive developments that respond to natural features and strengthen the character of existing neighbourhoods through designs that complement adjacent land uses, are scaled and organized to respect Whistler’s mountain village character, and enhance the resort experience of Whistler.

Pursuant to section 488(4) of the Local Government Act a development permit is not required in respect of the following:

  • (a) Any development that does not include multi-family development.
  • (b) Routine property maintenance except that involving a change of building colour to a dissimilar colour or change of building material to a dissimilar material.
  • (c) Minor building additions or alterations (under 10 square metres of floor area) that are consistent with the architectural character, materials and colours of the existing building.
  • (d) New doors and windows in existing or new locations consistent with the form and character of existing doors and windows on the building.
  • (e) The following development activities provided there is no removal of trees:
    • (i) minor alterations to existing roads, paths, parking areas or driveways;
    • (ii) patio improvements and additions; and
    • (iii) installation of seasonal play or recreational equipment on existing yard/lawn areas, such as sandboxes or swing sets.
  • (f) Vegetation management related to wildfire hazard reduction when carried out in accordance with:
    • (i) a FireSmart® Assessment or fuel management prescription; and
    • (ii) a permit to remove vegetation issued under the Environmental Protection Bylaw.
  • (g) Signs authorized by permit under the Sign Bylaw.
  • (h) Emergency works, including tree cutting to remove an immediate danger.
  • (i) Minor site clearing for topographic or other surveys for site and servicing work.

The general intent of these multi-family design guidelines is to illustrate various design elements which need to be considered by prospective developers. These guidelines set out the intended character and theme of all development on the lands. They are not intended to be exhaustive; other imaginative design solutions are encouraged provided they meet the general design intent. Each design will be reviewed in the context of surrounding development, and the specific design objectives for the lands. In the case of mixed-use developments that are subject to guidelines for more than one type of use (multi-family residential, commercial or industrial), the application of land use-specific guidelines to particular buildings and portions of buildings is a matter of discretion and the designer should apply the guidelines in a manner than results in an effective and coherent overall design. Applicants should review these guidelines and meet with planning staff at the outset of the design process to discuss the design objectives and issues. Land owners are encouraged to explore creative solutions for both new development and redevelopment of existing properties.

The following guidelines apply within the Multi-Family Residential DPA:


  • (a) Buildings and landscaping should be located and designed to suit natural topography, hydrology and vegetation. Creative, site sensitive solutions are encouraged. Site planning is required to minimize disturbance to natural contours and existing vegetation, and fit the context of surrounding development and natural environment. Designers should use site layout, building orientation, window placement, vegetation and landscape screening to provide visual privacy between neighbouring properties.
  • (b) Variances to Zoning Bylaw regulations may be considered provided they can be demonstrated to further the objectives of this OCP.
  • (c) Innovative and interesting façade treatments are strongly encouraged on all apartment and townhouse buildings, to create identifiable, attractive multi-family developments. For example:
    • (i) Stepping back or providing balcony and terrace areas on the building above the ground floor.
    • (ii) Use of a variety of colours, roof lines, architectural features and building materials. Large areas of unvaried material are strongly discouraged.
    • (iii) Use of building colours complementary to neighbouring buildings or identifiable with the area. Colours should be muted and consist of natural colours found in the Whistler setting. Limited use of complementary accent colours for focal points or architectural features is encouraged.
  • (d) Building materials should be sufficiently durable to withstand Whistler’s harsh climate.
  • (e) Innovative and interesting roof designs are strongly encouraged on all buildings, to create identifiable, attractive developments. For example:
    • (i) Roof forms should be modulated to reduce the apparent bulk of a building and to create more visual interest. Roof colour should be generally neutral or muted in order to blend with the natural landscape.
    • (ii) Snow and drainage from roofs should not be dumped onto adjoining streets or properties. Protect all pedestrian and vehicle access points from snow shed and ice accumulation.
    • (iii) Roof mounted equipment should be integrated with the overall roof design and adequately screened so it is concealed to the greatest extent possible from pedestrian viewpoints.
    • (iv) Roof designs which incorporate evolving technology and best practices for stormwater management and energy systems are encouraged within the context of other building design guidelines.
  • (f) Provide usable, public and private open spaces to create opportunities for recreation and social activity, and provide buffers between uses.
  • (g) Incorporate design elements that address the functional needs of persons with disabilities, including those who are mobility, visually and hearing impaired, or have reduced strength or dexterity.


  • (a) Access roads to parking areas should be constructed at minimum available grade differentials.
  • (b) The majority of apartment building parking should be provided in parking structures beneath the buildings.
  • (c) Townhouse parking may be a combination of covered parking attached to or within the dwelling unit, surface clusters, and underground parking as site conditions permit.
  • (d) Surface parking and loading areas should be situated appropriately in accordance with parking, loading and landscaping requirements.
  • (e) Surface parking should be screened and enhanced with landscaping and berms.
  • (f) Parking areas should provide adequate areas for snow storage and drainage.
  • (g) All accessible parking spaces should be located as close as possible to building entrances.
  • (h) Bicycle storage facilities should be provided within buildings for residents’ use.
  • (i) Solid waste storage should be designed as an integral element of the development—contained within the building or suitably screened and complementary to overall building design, and adequately sized to meet the needs of uses on site.


  • (a) Outdoor lighting should be used for safe pedestrian passage and property identification firstly. Seasonal festive lighting and limited architectural and landscape feature lighting is permitted.
  • (b) Illumination levels should be of sufficient intensity to provide safe pedestrian mobility but not overpower the nightscape. Use warm lighting.
  • (c) Direct light downward by choosing the correct type of light fixture. Acceptable fixtures are full cut-off and fully shielded fixtures that shield the light source to reduce glare.


  • (a) All signage associated with multi-family developments should be designed to be architecturally consistent with associated buildings.
  • (b) All signage must also meet the requirements of the Sign Bylaw, except that the bylaw requirements may be varied to authorize signs that are demonstrated to better achieve the overall objectives of these form and character guidelines.


  • (a) Fencing is generally discouraged but may be used where necessary, along with vegetative planting, to limit public access to utilities or dangerous areas.
  • (b) Fence design should be appropriate to its function, location and context in the neighbourhood. Fences should be of a high quality, reflecting and extending the building details and integrated with landscaping to minimize their visual impact.
  • (c) The use of chain link fencing is discouraged, and such fencing should not be visible from pedestrian areas, a street or a highway.


  • (a) Landscaping is a major, integral part of a project design and planting should emphasize the natural setting while enabling solar access into residential units.
  • (b) Landscaping should be able to withstand Whistler’s harsh climatic conditions and be coordinated with adjacent landscaping.
  • (c) Properties adjacent to Highway 99 should maintain a 20 metre wide landscaped area adjacent to the Highway 99 right-of-way that is densely clustered to simulate the scale and variety of forest plantings in order to integrate with the surrounding trees and natural setting.
  • (d) Wherever possible, mature trees should be preserved and integrated with new landscaping.
  • (e) Landscaped areas with the capacity to infiltrate and accommodate stormwater, such as planting beds and grassed areas, are encouraged to reduce stormwater runoff from surface parking lots and rooftops. The use of permeable paving materials for parking lots and other paved surfaces should also be considered.
  • (f) Use plant species suited to the local climate, requiring minimal irrigation, which also provide dynamic seasonal interest.


  • (a) Pedestrian areas, including sidewalks and pathways located on or adjacent to the site, should be an appropriate width, in terms of expected pedestrian volumes. The width should accommodate unencumbered year-round travel for both pedestrians and persons with accessibility challenges. Consideration should be given to snow clearing and snow storage areas.
  • (b) Building entrances should be directly accessed from sidewalks, parking lots and pedestrian pathways as seamlessly as possible from the street. Grade changes between sidewalks, squares, outdoor seating areas, transit stops and other pedestrian areas should also be minimized and designed to accommodate the needs of persons with disabilities.
  • (c) Building entrances, lobbies, stairs, corridors and exterior walkways should be designed to accommodate people wearing ski boots and carrying bulky equipment. Extra width, gentle pedestrian access grades, more generous steps, and heavier more durable materials should be provided.
  • (d) Pathways and trails providing links to other non-motorized networks are encouraged.